Protect your gear: How to Wash a Backpack by Hand?

Protect your gear: How to Wash a Backpack by Hand?

NayoSmart teach you how to wash a backpack by hand

From gym clothes to midday snacks and office supplies, we use our backpacks to tote around anything and everything. Over time, food, moisture, and everyday wear and tear can make a backpack filthy and smelly. Washing backpacks once or twice a year is an easy way to extend their lifespan and ensure your gear stays clean.


The golden rule for backpack washing is: Never put your backpack in the washing machine.

Although machine washing is easy and convenient, it is not necessarily cleaner than washing by hand. Moreover, high-speed cleaning will easily cause the bag to be deformed or even worn, while the buckles will also damage the washer drum. Therefore, it is not recommended to put backpacks in the washing machine, instead, we recommend washing backpacks by hand, especially if there are leather parts. So how to wash a backpack by hand? Here are the washing step instructions.


Empty the backpack. Take out everything in the backpack and double-check if there are any items have passed you by. Turn your backpack inside out and use a portable vacuum cleaner to suck up small particles of dirt and garbage. After emptying your backpack, leave all compartments and pockets unzipped.

Put all items inside the backpack in a carrying bag so that you can put them back in after you clean your backpack and will not lose any of them.


Prepare your backpack for washing. Use a damp cloth to wipe off the loose dirt or dust on the surface of your backpack before putting it into water. 

  1. If your backpack has some kind of frame, make sure to remove it before washing. 
  2. Take off all detachable pockets and straps from the main body of the backpack, and clean them separately to ensure that every part of the backpack is thoroughly cleaned.
  3. Cut off any loose threads or fabrics close to the zipping areas. These threads will get stuck in the zipper and cause the fabric to be torn. This step can ensure that zippers will be smooth after being cleaned.


Check the washing label. No one knows a bag better than their designer and manufacturer, therefore, it is necessary to take a look at the washing label to check the washing advice. These labels usually include information about the cleaning and drying methods of the backpack to ensure its sustainability. The washing label usually locates inside the backpack along a side seam, most likely in the main compartment. If there is no washing label on the backpack, you should test a small area of the fabric to see if there are any adverse reactions to your detergent.


Pretreat stains. Treat the stains with a pre-treatment stain remover, but avoid bleach. Use a soft brush or an old toothbrush to remove the remaining stains, and let the detergent stay on your backpack for 30 minutes, that will help remove most of the stain when you actually wash the backpack. If you don’t have any suitable pre-treatment, use a brush dipped in a 50:50 solution of laundry detergent and water to remove stains.


Fill a large sink or bathtub with 20-40 degrees Celsius water. Make sure you have plenty of room to wash out all the pockets and compartments of the backpack. The water should not be too hot, otherwise, the color of the backpack may bleed. If the washing label indicates that the backpack cannot be completely submerged in water, try to wet and clean parts of it with a damp cloth.


Add a gentle detergent to the water. The detergent you choose must be gentle and free of dyes, fragrances and harsh chemicals. Because the harsh chemicals could damage the backpack fabric and the fragrances and dyes could irritate your skin.


Clean your backpack with a soft brush or cloth. You can either fully submerge your backpack into the water, or wet a brush or cloth to clean the backpack. The brush is helpful in clean particularly dirty, and the cloth is more suitable for general cleaning. If your backpack is made of a delicate material like mesh, you’d better use a sponge instead of brushes to avoid damaging the fabric.


Rinse your backpack thoroughly. Rinse your backpack with lukewarm water and avoid leaving any detergent residue on the backpack fabric. Squeeze out the water stains on the backpack as much as possible, but not to wring out the backpack as it will deform your bag.


Dry your backpack. A dryer may overheat the synthetic parts and any glue joints, either weakening or destroying them, while zippers, buckles and metallic parts mighty harm the dryer drum. 

Instead of a dryer, you can air-dry your backpack naturally. Unzipped all the pockets and compartments and hang your bag upside down to air dry it. Before storing or using your backpack, be sure that it is completely dry, otherwise, it will be more likely to be moldy.


Waterproof spray. Spray a thin layer of waterproof spray on the backpack to reduce the adhesion of dirt and keep the bag clean. Depending on the spray composition and bag material, there may be some adverse reactions, so you need to consult the manufacturer before spraying your backpack, or use the same fabric for testing first.


Then, we finished hand washing a backpack. How long has it been since you cleaned your backpack last time? Check the status of your backpack and estimate whether it’s time to clean it up. In addition, daily maintenance can also extend the life of your backpack. You can find maintenance tips on: Top 9 Tips of Care Instructions for Backpacks.